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Now We Know: Trump’s 2016 Win Was No Fluke

By James Picerno, Director of Analytics

The outcome of the US presidential election remains unclear the morning after the Nov. 3 election, but the results so far have cleared up one misconception: Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 wasn’t a quirky outlier. Regardless of who wins the White House in the hours (or days) ahead, it’s obvious in the numbers posted so far that nearly half of voters who cast ballots prefer Trump.

Until yesterday it’s been plausible to argue that Trump’s first win reflected an experimental effort by a large segment of the population to change the political narrative and focus in Washington and elect a candidate who would disrupt norms. But the numbers tallied as of this morning (Nov. 4) clearly show that half of the electorate, give or take, is willing to re-elect Trump – with full knowledge of his four-year record and what that implies for America in the years ahead.

Close to 66 million American have chosen Trump over Joe Biden so far. That’s less than the 68 million-plus that went for the Democrat, and so Trump appears to have lost the popular vote, again. That’s irrelevant, of course, since presidents are selected on a state-by-state basis via the Electoral College. But whether Trump ultimately prevails or not, it’s revealing that close to half of voters decided to give the president another four years.

What accounts for the Trump’s popularity with some voters? Economic issues appear to be a leading factor — a factor that gives Trump an edge in most polling.

According to GZero Media, the economy was the top voter issue in 2016 and remains so in 2020.


Cultural issues continue to play a crucial role too. To oversimplify, many voters seem to support Trump as a statement for rejecting a range of so-called politically correct issues.

The big takeaway: It’s a mistake to view Trump’s political success as an isolated event with limited, if any, implications for the future. That was debatable in 2016, and perhaps even as late as Nov. 2, but there are no illusions today.

(An earlier version of this article first appeared at The Capital Spectator.com on November 4, 2020.)

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